I learned respect for law and the men that wear the badge from my father. Without law and the enforcement of it, society would soon crumble and anarchy and chaos would reign. Any civilized and intelligent society is based on law and respect for the law. Of course, laws can be enacted which are unfair, unjust and crushing to decent society. Too much of the world’s history is the history of unjust and corrupt law.
Our country was founded on law which was decided upon and voted for by the people, government by the people, of the people, and for the people. Our laws were not an edict from a king, or dictator as our forefathers had experienced. They risked their lives, fortunes and their sacred honor to give to us, their descendants, the sacred privilege of making our own laws according to our conscience and sense of right and wrong. The ten commandments—God’s laws- were the bed rock laws that our Founders used to establish this countries laws. Our nation has grown and prospered and thrived by adhering to the rule of law which sprang from that source.
My Dad’s uncle was a United States Marshall. Dad always spoke with great respect for Uncle Sol. My sister’s father-in-law was also a U.S. Marshall. I’ve always held him in high regard. My friend Ron was a “range detective” for the State of Wyoming. He faced uncommon dangers in bringing to justice modern day rustlers and cattle thieves. Twice left for dead by rustlers, he rode thousands of miles by horseback over the immense rangelands of Wyoming risking his life by night and by day to do his job. I’m not talking the 1800’s, I’m talking these modern times. He is still very much alive and carries the scars of a brave and noble lawman.
If ever I met a man who resembled “Will Kane” the Marshall of Hadleyville in the iconic movie classic of “High Noon” portrayed by Gary Cooper, it was our local game warden here in Star Valley. He was tall and slim like Cooper, and his searching eyes were much the same. He took pride in who he was and the people and government he represented. He took his job seriously, and was seen all over these parts doing his job. Just because of that fact he was a strong deterrent to many crimes and violations of game laws, and fish laws too.
I don’t know hardly any of the encounters he had with poachers and game outlaws, but I do know one. He arrested a poacher in the act of transporting his illegal kill in his truck. He made the citation and told the man to proceed down the lonely road and he would follow him till they arrived in town, where he would have him incarcerated, and his “kill” confiscated by the authorities. This man was a “dangerous” man with a reputation for such. Duane knew this and was aware that he was capable of aggression if the opportunity presented itself, they were a long way from nowhere, where nobody would see or know if something happened. With this fact in mind, Duane made sure his side arm was unstrapped, and that he never took his eye off the man as he continued to drive along this obscure and remote road.
Without warning, the man stopped his truck suddenly and with blurring speed swung his door open and stood on the ground raising his rifle toward his shoulder to take Duane out. Duane was already on the ground in a crouching stance with his pistol held in both hands, aimed and ready to fire. Before the man’s rifle was aimed at Duane, the man knew he would not win this dual. He quickly lowered his gun before it was too late for him. Duane, I think, confiscated the weapon as I recall, and they proceeded on their little afternoon drive to town where the man was put behind bars.
I tell this story because it illustrates that the lawman of today is the same as the lawman of history. He walks among us today, the same as he always did. I salute them, I respect them, I admire them, and God knows we need them. I believe we should pray for them, support them, and defend them with our actions and our words. They are, without a doubt, the long thin line that separates the law-abiding public from the law destroying criminals of today and tomorrow.